Blog

Helping your Team with the Cost of Living Crisis

Liz Chiva

Hallidays HR Director
20/07/2022

It’s no secret, businesses and individuals are facing a tough time financially at the moment. With fuel, energy and commodity prices rising at the highest rate in 40 years, cost of living pressures for both firms and households are causing considerable strain.

And it’s only expected to get worse as the year goes on.

So, although we will be under stress from a business perspective, we need to remember that our team is our most important asset. Employees who are feeling the strain financially, at home, are unlikely to be at their best and productive at work. Not to mention that money worries can lead to mental health issues, which could in turn lead to periods of absence.

So, we need to make sure that our team are OK!

Below are some practical ways you can lend a helping hand to any employees who are struggling with energy bills, transport costs, debt or any other financial matters.

Financial Support

Pay

Reviewing employee’s salary is quite an obvious place to start, and although there are unlikely to be unlimited pots of cash lying around, it is a good to review if you can. 

Perhaps ask yourself…..

Are you paying your employees enough?

Have you done some benchmarking recently to ensure that you’re paying the market rate? 

Could you consider paying the ‘Real Living Wage’ as opposed to the ‘National Living Wage’ so that lower paid members of your team are able live comfortably on a day to day basis?

Cost of Living Bonus

Some companies are issuing one-off ‘cost of living’ bonuses to their teams. This is anything from £200-£2,000. Every little helps, and as it is just a one-off discretionary payment, there is no obligation to offer the same year on year. It is simply to help during this exceptional period.

Salary Sacrifice

There are many benefits which can be paid via salary sacrifice, so that employees can get tax and NI relief on these benefits. Are your employees making the most of salary sacrifice and paying whatever they can via this? For example, childcare or their pension? If not, perhaps you could actively promote this, or talk to people on an individual basis, to maximise their income.

Flexibility

Hybrid Working

Being in the office less is an obvious way to reduce petrol and commute costs.

If you aren’t currently operating hybrid working, could you? Or if you are working 3 or 4 days a week in the office or onsite, could you reduce this to 1 or 2? Not only would it have a significant impact financially, but you’d also be saving the environment too!

Flexible Hours

If the nature of your business does not allow for hybrid working, perhaps you could offer some flexibility around start, and finish times? Many employees are finding the rising costs of before and after school care crippling – so an early finish or a late start could have a massive impact financially.

Travel

In additional to the hybrid working option mentioned above, you could also look at alternative and innovative ways to travel.

Car Pool/Car Share

In the past, companies have tried to do this, but mostly half-heartedly. Could you set up a scheme and encourage and promote it internally? Perhaps have a designated champion?

Bike2Work Scheme

You could encourage your team to get involved with the governments Bike2work Scheme. Which can be done via salary sacrifice.

Support Wellbeing

Now, there is only so much you can offer from an ‘initiative’ point of view, and sometimes, employees will still suffer with mental health issues as a result of the current climate. 

Here are some of the things you could offer to help with employee wellbeing:

Employee Assistance Programme

For a few pounds per employee, per month, you could look to implement an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). These programmes give employees external support around their wellbeing. There is usually a 24-hour helpline that employees can call for any reason, and more structured counselling if required. And this is all confidential, which is a comfort to many employees.

Well-Being Strategy

You could develop a wellbeing strategy to look at how else you can support your employees physical and mental wellbeing, in the longer term.

Good Management

This is one of the most critical things when focusing on employee wellbeing and happiness.

Good management is about creating an environment of trust, where your team feel as though they can come to you to air their feelings and to ask for help. It’s about creating that ‘safe space’ for an employee – without repercussion or judgement. And this doesn’t just happen by accident – it takes time and commitment. It’s about having regular 1 to 1’s and catch up meetings. It’s about talking to them about their personal lives in the good times, not just the bad, and talking about yours too! It’s about building those relationships so that when they are in trouble or are struggling, they tell you about it.

This is why it’s so important to invest in your line managers, to equip them with the skills they need to manage situations like this.

Employee Benefits

Employee benefits may not directly help to ease the cost of living crisis, but they certainly help to boost morale.

Survey

If you are looking to review your benefits package, then it’s important to understand what your employees think of what you currently offer, and whether there is anything additional they would like to see. So, do a survey! That way, you’re not spending money on schemes that not everyone will appreciate. You never know, you may find out that you have already hit the nail on the head?!

Benefit & Discount Platforms

There are a number of platforms that employers can sign up to, which offer a variety of discounts, offers and benefits. This means that employees can choose their own score card of benefits to suit their lifestyle. Enabling employers to meet individual needs, rather than the majority.

Benefit Options

Below are some additional benefits that you may wish to consider. Some are quick-wins, others may take a little more planning.

  • Holidays
    • Increasing annual allowance.
    • Opportunity to buy additional days.
    • Day off on your birthday.
    • Add bank holidays onto the annual holiday allowance and make bank holidays normal working days, giving additional flexibility to religious events & celebrations.
    • Give unlimited holidays like Netflix?!
  • Social events
    • Lunch/dinner/drinks out together, as a team and wider Company.
    • Christmas party/Summer BBQ.
  • Long Service Awards
    • Gift voucher/Award for different levels of long service.
  • Employee Awards
    • Employee of the Month/Year.
    • Gift Voucher/Award.
  • Tokens of Appreciation
    • Thank you card.
    • Letter of appreciation.
    • Own designated parking space for a month.
  • Gifts
    • On family occasions/significant life events (i.e. flowers on the birth of a baby, or death of a family member).
    • Relating to events throughout the year (i.e. Christmas – advent calendar; Easter – Easter egg).
    • Birthday card/cake.
  • Charity/Volunteering
    • Paid time off to volunteer for a charity.
    • Dressing up day.
    • Fundraising activities.

And many more!

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk. And of course, visit the website: https://hallidays-hr.co.uk/ and our LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/company/hallidays-hr/

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